Skiers and hikers will love Sun Valley Idaho, a gem of a getaway where you can ski during the winter (and spring) and hike, bike, swim and climb in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Just because you’re an adventure seeker doesn’t mean that you don’t love a great meal and Sun Valley has it’s fair share of fabulous restaurants to choose from. The main hub of the area is Ketchum, which has a quaint downtown with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a great long weekend retreat from Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, San Diego, LA and San Francisco.
Two years ago, I did a fairly lengthy round-up, so be sure to read my Top 12 Picks for the best restaurants in Sun Valley. It includes eateries that locals love as much today as they did in 2014, such as Globus, Enoteca and Ketchum Grill, still on East Avenue (three of my favorites). This year, here are two new ones to add to your list: Vintage Restaurant and Warfield Distillery & Brewery.
Vintage is one of those places you never forget because of its size and unique rustic charm. Located in a restored historic cabin, all the tables are in one small room, seating only 20 in total. You’ll want to make a reservation well in advance to ensure availability when planning your trip. Since we were already a group, we took over the entire restaurant so had a pre-fix menu as well to keep things easy.
Photo credit: Yelp
While quaint and small, the chef serves a variety of organic and fresh meals, from vegetarian offerings like Mushroom Tart with braised greens, asparagus, Cambozola cheese and a white truffle sauce (YUM!!) to duck, chicken, fish and beef.
They specialize in upscale peasant food using locally farmed sources for all their seafood, meat and poultry. Some more classic menu items include crispy skin roast duckling and Cajun oysters, but also more hearty options like Organic Naturally Raised pecan crusted chicken breast with roasted tomato chutney and Dijonnaise sauce, accompanied by Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and Italian roasted veggies.
My favorite? The Beef Tenderloin, which is oh so tender. They serve it with Idaho twice baked potatoes with three cheese roasted wild mushrooms and grilled asparagus, laced with a red wine syrup. I asked for no potatoes and double the veggies to keep it on the healthy side, a smart choice given the portions.
Appetizers…yup, that’s artichoke and asparagus…
Incredibly fresh Burrata salad — smoked tomatoes, watercress balsamic caviar and basil oil. Simple, but it lingered on my mind well after the meal.
An appetizer they’re well known for is their Rock Shrimp Tamale, which is served Los Barriles style — its presentation is exquisite, almost too exquisite to eat.
The wine selection was top notch – there was no shortage of wines to choose from, and despite the tiny size of the place, they managed to build in a wall full of reds to marvel at over dinner.
I didn’t have dessert but Yelp reviewers rave about their Naked Stranger dessert and the Chocolate Truffle Torte with housemade Mountain Decadence ice cream is supposed to be great says Sun Valley Magazine when they came in. My colleagues had the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries, but it was too dark to capture.
Photo credit: Sun Valley Magazine.
Two thumbs up — we would definitely return!
231 Leadville Avenue North
Ketchum, ID 83340
Warfield Distillery & Brewery
If you read this site often enough, you know that I’m a fan of wine over spirits and beer and usually go for wine with my meal even if there’s a choice to start off with a cocktail and everyone else is having one. It’s never been my thing. That said, there are some cocktail bars and breweries which have blown me away over the years and I left one happy camper. The Warfield Distillery and Brewery in downtown Ketchum is a gem for all spirits and beers although they have a decent wine menu as well.
The flavors and nuances of a spirit come from the inexact melding of flavors on the molecular level, influenced by the design of the copper pot still, water chemistry and the hands that coax the liquor to life. At Warfield, you can try their No Return Gin, which is handcrafted with botanicals native to Idaho’s wilderness.
If you’re a vodka lover, they have Mayday Vodka, which is named for the classic triple chair that serves Sun Valley’s bowls. Their Mayday Vodka is smooth and mellow; distilled from Idaho wheat and corn, it offers a warm, round finish that lingers.
There’s a lovely warm winter veggie salad on the menu with roasted butternut squash, turnips, arugula and mustard greens and if you don’t care about those calories, go for the Chicharrones, served with jamon powder and a spicy aioli. Unfortunately the oysters on the halfshell were out when I happened to be there. Dang!!
Most definitely worth ordering is their beet salad, which is served with spicy pecan, mustard greens, arugla, citrus and a shallot dressing. I could have had two of these – the spicy pecan mixed with the sharpness of the citrus and shallots was memorable.
On the larger side, they had a Poutine which is served with hand-cut fries, Idaho cheese curds, green chili velouté and scallions. For a heavier and unusual choice, the Handmade Pierogi makes for a great choice. Imagine a smoked mash that combines potatoes, sauerkraut, housemade cheese, caramelized onions and brussel leaves – wow, right?
Also unusual is their Grilled Artichoke with fingerling potatoes, garlic, arugula, parsley, spiced olives and lemon and a Braised Rabbit polenta gnocchi with crimini, cream and Brussel leaves. If I were not on such a low carb diet, I would have been all over that one.
On the lighter side, the Dover sole with pancetta, roasted garlic, brussel leaves and red quinoa is a perfect choice with a nice glass of Chardonnay. I started with a Cowhorn Syrah from Oregon and ended with a 2013 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Both went really well with my Rib Eye which is their to-die-for grass-fed, grain-finished Idaho rib eye steak with smoked mash, roasted carrots and a shallot marmalade. Two thumbs up!!
For the more adventurous, the Cassoulet duck confit, housemade sausage with Warfield beans, citrus and a herb crust is a fun choice or the Housemade Sausage & Mash –– yup, it’s a banger, smoked mash with melted leeks and smothered in the Miner’s Canary Stout gravy. If I wasn’t so full, I would have loved to taste that homemade stout gravy — bring it on!
As you know, we drove across country last year and had plenty of southern delights at some of the best restaurants in Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock and the Mississippi Delta. One stand out dish I’ll never forget was the deep fried chicken and waffle combo, which Warfield had on their menu. This is a must try if you don’t care about fat or calories. Here, they hand-batter the chicken, add a Carolina béchamel, then top it with maple syrup, cayenne pepper and collard greens. Whoah Nellie! I regret not trying it out.
Inside, the Warfield is an eclectic mix of charming and rustic, with its copper and earth tone shades throughout and its authentic brick wall behind the bar.
Photo credit: svpn-mag.com
Inside, the establishment is laced with lots of fine touches, polished hardwood floors and booths in the middle. Benches line the walls, all of which have comfy pillows to lean up against, a great way to relax on a Saturday night.
Photo credit: www.conradgarner.com.
Kudos to the chef and very attentive servers who took care of me. Would I go back? You betcha, but this time, I’d make sure to try that insanely decadent chicken and waffle dish.
Warfield Distillery & Brewery
280 North Main Street
Ketchum, ID 83340
All photos: Renee Blodgett unless otherwise notified above.